Every Good Wife fan knows that boot-wearing, leather-skirt rockin’ Kalinda Sharma is a superhero. What you may not know is that her real-life portrayer, Archie Panjabi, is a bit of a superhero herself.
Instead of wielding a baseball bat, however, Panjabi uses a vaccination needle to help prevent a devastating disease. She graciously shared a few minutes with me and her BuddyTV fans this week to discuss her favorite cause, the fight to eradicate polio. She also revealed some of what’s in store for Kalinda, including her thoughts about whether we’ll see the private investigator’s hated husband again.
A Cause with a Personal Connection
The Emmy-winning actress – who spoke in her charming native British accent — spent last week promoting World Polio Day, held yearly on October 24. Co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and others, World Polio Day shines a light on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s mission to erase polio from the planet. Though the incidence of polio has shrunk exponentially in the last two decades, it’s still endemic in three countries. Panjabi explained the personal connection that led her to devote her energy to this cause.
“I actually didn’t know what polio was until the last few years. I knew it was a disease, of course, but not much more. Although I was born in England, I also spent many years of my childhood in India. On my daily walks to school, I saw children missing limbs, begging on the street. But nobody told me what had happened to them.
“It wasn’t until many years later, after the success of The Good Wife, that I researched polio and realized it was the same disease I’d seen as a schoolgirl. Young children under the age of five are most likely to get it and become crippled or die. And then it spreads. I knew that this was something I had to be part of and wanted to be connected to. The worst thing is that once you get it, you can’t cure it. The best thing is that it can be prevented with a few drops of vaccine that cost less than a dollar a dose.”
“We Can’t Cure Polio — But We Can Prevent It”
As Panjabi’s story illustrates, India once struggled against the disease. Fortunately, the country was declared polio-free in 2012, which of course has great meaning to her. She currently serves as one of Rotary’s End Polio Now celebrity ambassadors. Last year, she took time from her busy schedule to work with Rotary volunteers to immunize children in India.
“Rotary has been active in the fight against polio since the 1980s and has immunized millions of people around the world,” she said. “It really is possible to make this happen – to eradicate this disease.”
How can Good Wife fans help? “We urge people to donate to Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. It’s especially effective because for every dollar you donate, the Gates Foundation will donate two. Show your support. Educate people. Polio still exists, and it’s incurable. But we can prevent it, and we’d love everyone to help us finish the job. We’re so close.”
Is Will the “New Alicia”?
In addition to talking about her favorite cause, Panjabi happily answered some of our most burning questions. First of all, how is all the turmoil on display in this week’s new episode, “Hitting the Fan,” affecting the usually all-knowing private eye?
“Kalinda is starting to deal with the fact that Alicia’s leaving the firm and didn’t tell her,” Panjabi said. “She’s hurt by it. There’s a sweet scene between Kalinda and Will where they talk about it. They’ve developed a real friendship – he’s been very supportive of her. He might be the new Alicia, her new confidante. Who knows?”
Although Panjabi describes Kalinda as having “good chemistry” with Will, she’s quick to emphasize their relationship is strictly platonic – they have no sexual past (unlike Kalinda and Peter Florrick, for example). “She doesn’t sleep with everyone she meets!” she said with a laugh.
She also revealed what many of us have wondered: Will she stay or will she go? For now, she’s staying put at Lockhart & Gardner, determined to support her boss during this difficult time.
But what does her decision mean for Cary and Kalinda? On this point, Panjabi remained a bit coy. While they definitely have chemistry (there’s that word again!), “for now, since she’s staying at Lockhart & Gardner, we’ll have to wait and see. But something may happen in the future.”
“The Audience Doesn’t Get to See Everything about Kalinda”
What about last season’s controversial storyline (and open-ended conclusion) about Kalinda’s husband, Nick? Specifically, have we seen the last of him?
“Who knows? What’s so great about Kalinda is she’s so provocative,” Panjabi said. “The audience doesn’t get to see everything. She’s a work in progress.
“But the producers were well aware of the fans and critics disliking that whole storyline. They needed to respond to the negative feedback and disconnect that character [of Nick] from the show. They’re actually very protective of Kalinda and didn’t want to keep angering the fans.”
She believes the strong reaction probably accounts in part for the smaller role Kalinda’s played during the early episodes of season 5. “Kalinda’s involvement adds an edge to any plot,” she said. “This season so far is about the partners. It’s good to take a backseat for right now, because that’s given people like Matt Czuchry [Cary] and Josh Charles [Will] some strong storylines, which is great.
“But don’t worry – you’ll be seeing a lot more of Kalinda later in the season.”
Photo courtesy of Rotary International
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS.